SUPERMARKETS ATTRACTING MOST VISITS BY CONSUMERS BUT ACNIELSEN STUDY SHOWS SHOPPERS SPEND MORE PER TRIP AT WAREHOUSE CLUBS

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Consumers make their most frequent shopping trips to the supermarket, but once there, they spend less than they do at warehouse clubs and discounters. That's one finding of ACNielsen Corp.'s Second Annual Report on Consumer & Market Trends, which reveals that consumers average 94 trips to grocery stores per year, compared to nine trips to warehouse stores and 27 to discounters.

They spend $23.37 during each foray to the grocery store, as compared to $66.45 during each run to a warehouse store. At discounters, the average checkout tally is $27.80.

DYNAMICS CHANGED

The blurring of the lines between retail outlets has changed consumer dynamics. The percentage of consumers shopping at liquor stores fell from 28% to 27%, and those frequenting stationery stores fell from 31% to 29%.

Electronics stores, on the other hand, jumped to 35% from 26%; those patronizing pet stores and auto stores held at 30% and 33%, respectively.

Consumers naturally shop at multiple outlets and are likely to buy certain products in different places. In the paper, oral hygiene, detergent and cookie categories, for example, dual-channel buyers accounted for more than 40% of sales.

In coffee, those shoppers accounted for nearly one-third of total sales.

REFRIGERATED GROWTH

In the grocery store, the refrigerated case is the fastest-growing section, with $3.3 billion in 1997 sales, up 14.3%. The biggest seller was ready-made salads, with $1.26 billion in sales, up 19.8%, followed by refrigerated lunches at $557 million, up 12.4%.

The fastest gainer in the cooler was refrigerated fruit, up 65%, albeit off a small base of $53 million in sales.

In dry grocery sales, the fastest-growing category was ready-to-drink coffee, up 463%, to $41 million.

READY-TO-EAT, PRIVATE LABEL

Other notable facts revealed in the report:

Ready-to-eat meals will hit $100 million in sales this year, as the home meal-replacement craze rages on.

A full 42% of shopping households purchase prepared foods each quarter-$19 per shopping household.

Private-label products reached 100% household penetration in 1997, purchased 67 times per household per year on average; a typical outlay of $5.43 a trip.

The heaviest users of private labels account for eight out of 10 such purchases, and the heavy buyers generally come from households of more than five people.

Store "loyalty" cards are used by 55% of U.S. households, up 20% from 1996. The leading store-card market is Chicago, followed by Charlotte, N.C., and Los Angeles.

The cards tend to be used most by professional, white-collar households on the East and West Coasts, and card users claim to present them 91% of the time.

Still, shoppers ranked a loyalty card as the No. 3 reason for choosing a particular store-convenient location and "store deals" were first and second, respectively.

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